Religious Communities for Men
Chapter 3:



Avrillé, France.

"It is known that our Order, from the beginning, was especially instituted for preaching and for the salvation of souls. That is why our efforts must tend principally towards making us useful to the souls of our neighbours. To this specific end are intimately united the teaching and the defense of the truth of the Catholic Faith, both by the spoken word and by numerous writings. It is necessary, then, that we pursue this end by preaching and by teaching out of the abundance of our contemplation, according to the example of our Father Saint Dominic who in order to save souls, spoke only to God or of God." (Constitutions of the Order of Friar Preachers).

St Dominic

Saint Dominic (1170-1221) was a canon regular in Spain. During a trip in 1203 in the South of France, infested at that time with Albigensian heretics, he realized that the keeper of the inn where he was spending the night was a heretic. Immediately he endeavored to convert him and, after a night of discussing, succeeded. The historians will mark this episode as one of the turning points in the life of St. Dominic. Soon after, Providence will lead the saint to dedicate himself to the conversion of heretics and to found the Order of Friar Preachers, instituted from its birth for the preaching of doctrine against heresy.

The Cloister


St. Dominic's rediscovery of the apostolic ideal in the course of the thirteenth century is the stroke of genius that allowed him to re-launch mission activity in all of Christendom and beyond. But what is this apostolic ideal? "For St. Peter, the ministry consists first of all in prayer, secondly in preaching ; the administration of sacraments does not come until after, as a secondary thing, that the Apostles often left to deacons for the sacrament of baptism, or to priests, for baptism and other sacraments." (Father Emmanuel, Treatise of the Ecclesiastical Ministry, ch. 2). This is our Dominican life.


The Chapel

PRAYER: "As for us, we will be devoted entirely to prayer” (Acts 6:4).

Dominicans are contemplatives. In the friaries reign the monastic observances: liturgical prayer (office solemnly recited in choir every day), meditation, silence, chapter of faults (where each accuses himself before the community of exterior faults against the Constitutions and the common life, which stimulates the humility and fervor of the community). This contemplative life develops under the care of Our Lady: the meditation of the Holy Rosary (entrusted by the Virgin Mary to the Dominican Order) illuminates the actions of the day.

PREACHING: "We will be devoted entirely to prayer and to the ministry of the Word." (Acts 6:4). To contemplate and to give to others what one has contemplated. (Motto of the Dominican Order).

Religious Profession

Our contemplative life must flow upon souls and lead them to God.  So our apostolate does not consist only in our life of prayer and sacrifice, it is exteriorized by the preaching of doctrine; the Dominican Order has always had the mission in the Church to protect the truth, to illustrate and to defend dogma, to expose the mystery of the faith. It is necessary to teach doctrine, but is also necessary to defend it against heretics, for our love for the truth is shown by the hatred we bear towards error, according to the formula of Tertullian. The names of St. Albert the Great and St. Thomas Aquinas come immediately to mind, and also more recently that of Father Garrigou-Lagrange in Rome or Father Pinon in the Philippines. But one should also mention a multitude of Dominican apostles like Blessed Alphonse Navarette and his companions, martyrs in Japan; the great St Vincent Ferrer; the illustrious Peter of Verona, inquisitor, martyr (+1253)... The Dominican apostolate includes all forms of preaching: missions, retreats, publications. When one considers the present collapse of Christendom, it is evident that the work to be done is gigantic. But this predication, nourished by a contemplative and monastic life is also prepared by intense study. Unlike the life of monastic orders, in the Dominican life study has an essential place. This was in fact, the great novelty of the Dominican order during the thirteenth century: in the Friaries, study replaced manual work. The truth that the preacher studies is the revealed supernatural Truth. The science of the preacher is theology. He studies it especially in the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, the most illustrious of the sons of St. Dominic, whom the Church has made her Doctor Communis. Study constitutes for him a direct preparation for teaching and for the ministry of the Word, but also it helps him in the meditation of the Divine Truth. The science of the contemplative is the science of the faith inflamed by charity, illuminated by the gifts of the Holy Ghost. It is the science that makes one see everything with the eye of God Himself.

ADMINISTRATION OF THE SACRAMENTS “Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach” (1 Cor. 1:17)

The apostolate of the sacraments is just the final result of the apostolate which cannot consist essentially in this administration of the sacraments but above all in preparing souls to receive the sacraments fruitfully. Divine grace will then fall on ground that has been prepared to receive it and it will then bear much fruit. Since the vocation of Dominican priests is apostolic, they administer above all the sacraments of the Eucharist and Penance, and the other sacraments only rarely, unlike secular priests. They have a different mission; that is the richness of the Church.

CONCLUSION : A PRIESTLY ORDER: “Your Father Dominic, my beloved son”, God said to St Catherine of Sienna, “willed that his brothers have no other thought than that of my honor and the salvation of souls, by the light of science. It is this light that he willed to be the principal object of his Order... in order to extirpate the heresies that had risen up at his time. HIS ROLE WAS THAT OF THE WORD, MY ONLY SON...”  The Dominican life embodies the most complete imitation of the life led by Jesus Christ during the time of His stay among us.

The Monastery

The Dominican is:

PRIEST in order to imitate Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Sovereign Priest.

RELIGIOUS in order to be priest more perfectly, in order to imitate more closely Our Lord Jesus Christ poor, chaste and obedient.

CONTEMPLATIVE in order to nourish himself on God, known through faith as Our Lord nourished Himself by the contemplation of His Father, face to face.

PREACHER in order to carry out the mission of the Word.

The principal objects of devotion in the Order are:

- the most Holy Eucharist

- the Blessed Virgin Mary, invoked especially in her Rosary - which resumes the whole Gospel and all of Christian Doctrine

- prayer for the souls in Purgatory.

Monastic Study

LAY BROTHERS have an important role in the Order. Their work ensures the smooth functioning of the material side of community life: the kitchen, the sacristy, office work, the garden, the laundry... They cooperate at their place, in the common work of the apostolate, that they support by their life of prayer and work consecrated to God, as well as by other tasks (catechism, hospitality...)


A traditional Dominican community exists in France; it wishes to live faithfully the spirit of St. Dominic and the traditions of the Order. All the priests of the community have been ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre or by the bishops he consecrated.

Rev. Fr. Innocent Marie, the actual prior (in August 2000)
with Bishop A. de Galarreta, SSPX

For more information, write to :

Rev. Father Prior
Congregation of St. Dominic
Friary of La Haye aux Bonshommes


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